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Communication Problems:
“Me and my 15 year old daughter have gotten into a vicious cycle.”

Dear Annie,

My daughter will soon turn 15 and I still get the 2 year old attitude from her and can't stand it any more!

I notice I am losing it very easily and that is not me (at least I think it is not). For example, I asked her to come downstairs and help me out with some chores (she is up in her room all day!) She started yelling me from up there "No, I don't want to help you clean YOUR mess! bla, bla, bla." I had just come home from seeing my counselor and I was not expecting this. I started raising my voice and when finally she came I was on her case! At one point I have to cover her mouth because she wouldn't shut up! Now, she said I was abusing her. Annie, I hate my own behavior, I wish I can just walk away, cool down but she keeps whining!

This is a very vicious circle where she blames, scream, talks back, cries etc... Later, after we are both tired of this she will come and pretend like nothing has happened. She will be the most sweet girl, kissing and hugging. My counselor said she plays me and manipulates me. I am afraid it's quite true.

Losing It

Dear Losing It,

This situation isn't going to improve on its own. You say that you are seeing a counselor? Have you considered family counseling? The reason I'm suggesting this is that what you're describing is not your "fault" or your daughter's "fault". Families interact like gears in a machine. You and your daughter need to learn healthier ways of interacting. But because this has been going on for so long, it has also affected the relationships amongst other family members.

My suggestion would be to talk with your counselor about a session for the whole family. If she doesn't do family counseling, then get a referral to someone who has experience with families and teens. Once you make the appointment, do not give your daughter the option of not going. Be clear, be direct and simply say to her (no anger needed) "Our family is in trouble. We cannot go on this way. We need some help. We are all part of the problem and we are all going to work together, with the help of a counselor, to find some solutions. I have made an appointment and we're all going."

Expect some serious push back from her... Do not engage. This isn't negotiable. The whole family is going and at the session everyone will be treated with respect and have an opportunity to be heard.

I hope this helps.

In friendship,

Annie

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